Thursday, August 16, 2012

Kamera Obskura

Kamera Obskura

All of the movies I saw during the latest Cinemalaya have something to do with silence, but this time around there are no more speaking characters. Kamera Obskura is a silent film in black and white. I think the movie is about making movies. It closely follows a man stuck in a hole submerged in darkness. He then breaks out and finds a mysterious camera inside a store. Here's a full synopsis of the story.


As the movie stated, this is the first time a silent movie came out since I wasn't even born. I'm not sure if that's true but I'll believe them. I liked the layers of the movie depicting how corruption is portrayed in all levels and sectors of society. The camera that got stuck on the protagonist's had the power to shine light and eliminate corrupt or bad people. Everyone who saw what he was capable of wanted a piece of him. I liked the way the movie ended with questions and not real answers. The movie didn't really end it just cut to a scene of a dialogue among a group of people covered in shadows.


Saturday, August 11, 2012


Aparisyon is another movie I caught during Cinemalaya. I headed to Trinoma to catch this film. It dealt with silence yet again, but this time around it took it to another direction compared to Ang Nawawala.


This movie is about a bunch of nuns in a convent sometime during the Martial Law years in the Philippines. The movie's serene beginnings turn into a solemn and harrowing end when the movie came to a close. The story revolves around Lourdes (Jodie Sta. Maria), Remy, and Mother Superior Ruth. Lourdes is the new nun in the block and is introduced to the cloistered life. Her character is in stark contrast to Remy who is more outgoing and strong in personality. This time around, silence is used as a tool to cover up the situations that involved the monastery. After the rape of Lourdes and subsequent pregnancy, the monastery and Mother Superior Ruth is thrown into controversy and moral issues that it did not face before.

The change in aura and character of Mother Superior Ruth is seen when the old Mother Superior, who was now delusional, saw her as Satan, when before she was though of as Mother Mary herself. Silence this time around is used as a tool that leads to inaction. Everything is kept inside and as a secret to protect the image of the monastery. Here is a complete synopsis of the movie. 

I liked this movie because of the questions it posed on the viewers, at first I thought I was in for a horror movie, but when the story unfolded, the horror and dread of the aparisyon is more of what is going on in the mind and not the actual aparisyon.

This movie and Ang Nawawala took silence and moved in very different directions. Hopefully, we get to see more of these kinds of films from Philippine cinema.

Ang Nawawala

The much maligned Filipino movie industry is often filled with fantasy, drama, and comedy movies that don't make you think. It's often all for the glory of manufactured artistas and movie studios. But there is a yearly event that brings out the best in Filipino movie making. Cinemalaya is the chance for indie movie makers to show their art and breathe life into the decaying corpse that is Philippine cinema. I must admit that this is the first time I watched any indie movies from Cinemalaya. But something in me told me that maybe I should give this movie festival a shot.

I trooped to Trinoma to catch screenings of the movies in the Cinemalaya film fest. I read movie reviews about the films first before I decided to watch one. What caught my eye was the indie movie by Marie Jamora.

Ang Nawawala

Ang Nawawala caught my eye because of its take on silence. After watching The Artist there is something about silence that speaks volumes. I would boldly claim that this movie won't be able to touch the hearts and minds of the masses, unless you came from a certain school or certain family.

The movie is about a young man named Gibson and his self-imposed silence since he was a child. You can read a synopsis here, because I won't go into much detail about it. This movie brings the indie music scene, style, and depth that a majority of Filipino films lack. There are multiple layers to each character in the story especially Gibson. He kind of reminds me of the guy in American Beauty.

Creepy guy pointing a camera and documenting everything

Gibson's silence is open to interpretation: it either hides depth or just plain shallowness. His character is in stark contrast to the boyfriend of her sister who just talks and blabbers mindlessly. The main reason why he stopped talking was because he saw his twin brother plummet to his demise and his own mother couldn't even tell if he was his brother or Gibson. He didn't want to say anything. You could insert several interpretations about identity or whatnot but that's up to you.

He meets a girl named Enid, his first real shot at a romantic relationship. The relationship goes on an interesting twist because she was the first person he (Gibson) decided to say something to after several years. Hurting everyone else around home, especially his childhood friend. The relationship didn't turn out for the best but it taught Gibson something. He realized the pain that his mother was feeling after several years, caused by the death of his twin brother. The self-imposed silence and the things that have happened to Gibson finally made him decide to talk. His self-imposed silence pushed him to the brink and made him realize that he had to open up and let go. Catharsis!

I like the whole silence motif, although I wouldn't say that this one was better than the Artist, but it was pretty close (Filipino pride).